Saturday’s nuclear talks ‘an Iranian trick,’ warns Israel’s last envoy to Tehran

Uri Lubrani, now a top adviser to the vice prime minister, says US is being duped

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

A file shot of Uri Lubrani, an adviser to the minister of strategic affairs (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/ Flash 90)
A file shot of Uri Lubrani, an adviser to the minister of strategic affairs (Photo credit: Moshe Shai/ Flash 90)

A former Israeli ambassador to Iran, now serving as an adviser to the minister of strategic affairs, says he has little faith in Saturday’s talks on Iran’s nuclear program yielding a breakthrough. He also says the American administration is being duped by Iran, has consistently misread the regime there, and has misunderstood the needs of the people.

“I am very, very skeptical about this meeting,” Uri Lubrani, a senior adviser on Iran to Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, told The Times of Israel.

“It’s just another trick in a package of tricks meant to buy time,” said Lubrani, who served as Israel’s head of mission in Tehran, with the rank of ambassador, from 1973-1978, the final years of Israel’s warm relations with Iran before the fall of the Shah.

The permanent members of the UN Security Council along with a German representative, collectively known as the P5+1, are to conduct negotiations with Iranian representatives this Saturday in Istanbul. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated that Israel would find acceptable an arrangement in which the regime ceases to enrich uranium, all previously enriched material is removed from the country and a facility in Qom is opened to inspectors. Low-grade uranium, for non-military purposes, could be imported into Iran.

“If Iran does all of these things then it will truly seem that it intends to cease its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said in a recent interview with Maariv. The prime minister has also indicated, however, that time is running out on diplomacy and sanctions, and that the moment of truth on possible military intervention is only months away.

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has stated that Iran is “logically, religiously and theoretically” opposed to the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons – a stance belied by many of the covert elements of the program and one that the fractured group of powers will attempt to pin down with firm commitments.

Lubrani related to these American-led efforts when he said, “The Americans don’t understand the Iranians. They have not even understood that it is possible to stop talking.” Lubrani was apparently indicating that the US has failed to see through Iran’s stalling tactics, and should have already recognized that the diplomatic route was leading nowhere.

Lubrani, whose career extends back to a stint as an adviser on Arab affairs to prime minister David Ben-Gurion and an ambassador to Iran with close ties to the Shah during the late seventies, also said that Israel is “too weak and too poor” to do anything non-military in terms of regime change in Iran. The Americans, who do have the capacity, have been sending the wrong signals.

Iran’s dissatisfied citizens “look at Syria, and they see that the people there (rising up against the regime) are being shot and that nothing is being done” by the outside world to help them, Lubrani said. If they attempt to rise up, the Iranian people “understand that this will be their fate as well.”



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